With a Seattle startup called Green for Good, the "green revolution" may be getting its Amazon.com. That's a big pair of shoes for a modest...
With a Seattle startup called Green for Good, the “green revolution” may be getting its Amazon.com.
That’s a big pair of shoes for a modest 2-month-old bootstrap Internet venture to step into. But as word of Web spreads and unsolicited inquiries from big-name vendors mount, GreenforGood.com‘s founders are beginning to think they’re onto something.
Anyone who shops for green products knows that the market needs an aggregator. A Wal-Mart. A Home Depot. An Amazon.
Not on that scale, of course. But an equivalent Web destination where buyers can find a variety of stuff under one roof.
In one of those plane-flight inspirations, it occurred to Green for Good founder David Kaufer that “no one really pulled things together in a convenient way for green purchasers.”
Kaufer, whose name is familiar to Puget Sound tech veterans for the PR agency he and Pam Miller ran for years, contacted technical partner Nick Pace, and Green for Good was off and running.
As its name suggests, the site markets organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly products, donating a portion of its profits to causes (among them Trees for Life and the National Breast Cancer Foundation).
So far, Green for Good has served as an intermediary, handing off purchasers to affiliated vendors.
But after a conversation with Mark Anderson, the Strategic News Service tech seer, Kaufer decided to move into selling products, using a third-party fulfillment company for shipping and handling.
“We’ll be a hybrid for a while, still doing affiliate links,” said Kaufer. “But we expect to move to vendor-only as soon as we can.”
It makes sense. Green for Good gets to keep a higher percentage of each sale. It gets to build its own clientele and benefit from a customer database.
It can control and improve the user experience through sale and follow-up. And it can generate community — forums, blogs, mailing lists — around core values.
The last element is crucial in an era where information is at glut levels but credibility is more elusive than ever.
“With green products, people want a trusted source more than ever,” Kaufer said. “The second most common query we get has to do with product questions.” Things like natural makeup, deodorants without aluminum, safe fertilizers.
With high-profile vendors like Seventh Generation on the phone, Kaufer is talking to a number of angel investors.
One question that inevitably comes up: What’s to prevent an Amazon from tossing up a “green” Web store?
Not much. But Green for Good can draw hope from the Netflix experience. Once Netflix built a successful Web-based movie-rental business, Wal-Mart jumped in with lowball prices and huge first-run inventories.
It didn’t work. Wal-Mart, which never really understood the mail-rental business, turned over its business to Netflix.
Kaufer is cautiously sanguine about his chances. For a big fish to get interested, he said, first Green for Good has to become a little fish.
“We’re like a guppy right now,” he said with a laugh.
Seattle freelance writer Paul Andrews has written about technology for more than two decades. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.